Words of concern – how to mean them
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FROM There's an Elephant in the Room blog
May 2021

We simply don’t get to claim we care while doing something that proves we don’t. If we care we become vegan. If we refuse to be vegan, it’s a statement we don’t care. Which is it to be?

Sheep Trish
Trish was rescued by Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary. She was too ill to be saved.

When confronted with an article or post about a poorly individual who has been rescued from being used as a human resource, it is not unusual to read furious criticisms:

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  1. about the farmer / breeder,
  2. about the absence of veterinary care, or
  3. about the apparent apathy of the XYZPCA organisations that are fancifully imagined to care about such matters and implement ‘laws’ to prevent them.

I don’t know if those who still cling to the notion that consumers can duck responsibility for the consequences of their demands are vegan or not, but based on my own memories, I’d guess possibly not. I suspect in my nonvegan past it might have eased whatever conscience I might have had to think that someone, somewhere was caring for my victims when I clearly wasn’t. Like all nonvegans, I was very quick to claim that I cared for ‘animals’ in general while my every action proved such claims to be complete nonsense. I’ve referred to all these things in previous blogs but I’m aiming to stick to the point here. Follow the links for more on a particular subject.

It’s a matter of profit

Products derived from the lives and bodies of our fellow creatures are sold in shops and restaurants at bargain basement prices. It is simply a fact that the majority of people don’t have lots of money and we all need to get as much as we can for what we can afford to spend. In a society where life is so cheap that needlessly slaughtering hundreds of millions of innocent individuals every day, incarcerating millions of mothers to pump out their breastmilk, taking the eggs from billions of hens selectively bred to self destruct, flaying skin, shaving fibres and all the other horrors of nonveganism are not even considered to be atrocities, it’s no surprise that our species’ fundamental lack of reverence for life is reflected in our nonvegan shopping habits. Demand for cheap products is what keeps prices low. We give it very little thought, but it’s the truth.

So we look for cheap products. And meanwhile, far from being the ‘labour of love’ that some frame it as, farmers, breeders and their enablers are key participants in a demand-led supply industry. Like any other business, they’re in it for the money and work on the principle of ‘least outlay for maximum profit’. Although still reaping the benefits of state subsidies, their income is affected by the cost of the body parts at the point of sale. Which as I’ve pointed out, is cheap. This affects what they’re prepared to spend in terms of accommodation, feed, and also the lifespan of their ‘assets’. It is desirable for victims to reach the point of optimum profitability in as short a time as possible to cash in on the investment.

So here let’s bring in the ‘veterinary care’ aspect.

Reality check about veterinary care

When was the last time you visited the vet with a family member? It’s expensive. Very expensive. The last time I had investigations carried out for two members of my family I had very little change from Ł800 which is well over a month’s income for me. To be absolutely blunt, if I had been planning to sell their bodies to a butcher, there would have been no way I could have broken even, far less made a profit and that was for a single visit. And to continue in that vein, if indeed they had been destined – as many ‘farmed’ victims are – for their body parts, eggs and breastmilk to be consumed, shoppers would be outraged to discover that drugs and medications of any kind were ‘contaminating’ their purchases.

Every user of veterinary services is subject to the same costs. Because I love my family for who they are, I seek help for them. If they were business assets from which I was planning to profit financially, my decision would have to be based on whether there was any financial gain to be had from spending money on expensive veterinary treatment.

And before anyone starts resorting to rhetoric about the pain, suffering of the victims and compassion for their plight, please don’t. If consumers or suppliers truly cared about these individuals for the thinking, feeling individuals that they are, they wouldn’t be victims in the first place. Because ALL nonvegan use is unnecessary.

We simply don’t get to claim we care while doing something that proves we don’t.

Okay so what about the XYZPCA – isn’t there a law against this?

Now here, many are possibly saying yeah I can see how the money thing works – that makes sense (or at least it does to me), but what about the XYZPCA? Surely that’s what they’re for – to step in and help? This is something I’ve written so much about that possibly people have been put off by the long posts. Suffice to say there is a fundamental misunderstanding about the function of these organisations, about the term ‘welfare‘ which they bandy about so much and about the laws and ‘regulations‘ that are imagined to protect our victims.

Regulations and guidelines are not designed to protect the well-being, the experiences or the individual autonomy of those who are ‘farmed’ as victims, a fact that seems to escape us, considering the shock and outrage of online responses to extracts from guidelines issued by said XYZPCA organisations when they appear on social media; for example extracts describing how to carry out various mutilations, ‘thumping’ piglets, ‘gassing’ and ‘maceration’ of hatchlings, stunning, live transport and a myriad other standard regulated and perfectly legal practices.

It’s clear that shocked commenters don’t expect ‘welfare’ organisations to be advising on stocking densities, slaughter methods and the like. But once we stop imagining that ‘welfare’ has anything to do with our victims’ wellbeing or rights as individuals, it all makes complete sense. That’s what these organisations are actually employed to do, to advise regarding the minimum and/or most profitable standards by which victims may be commodified.

I like the explanation provided by Go Vegan World:

‘Those who profit from them defend their use of them by referring to the ‘animal welfare standards’ which guide their work. Let’s be absolutely clear about what animal welfare means. It is an industry term that refers to the legal breeding of sentient animals into a life where they are deliberately killed.

It refers to the minimum standards by which other animals can be owned, commodified, and exploited. It refers to standard legal practices such as hyperconfinement, mutilation, electrocution, gassing, live mincing, scalding, separating mothers from their babies, and breaking the bonds between animals who know each other. It includes taking their milk and eggs, and it includes killing them.’

I was going to summarise in a closing paragraph but as I said, I’m aiming to be brief. So I’ll just repeat what I said earlier.

We simply don’t get to claim we care while doing something that proves we don’t. If we care we become vegan. If we refuse to be vegan, it’s a statement we don’t care. Which is it to be?


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